Wednesday, February 25, 2009

To sleep, perchance to dream

Last night I fell asleep watching Anthony Bourdain. That could have been dicey. Typically in my dreams I conjure up some of the images of my last waking moments. By recycling Bourdain, there was the possibility of finding myself chowing down on yak tongue or reeling from the effects of absinthe.

Tony aside, I love to dream. I encourage it. I keep journals. Often I force myself back to sleep so I can finish a dream that’s interesting. Sometimes I have fun lucid dreaming where my conscious mind gets in on the action.

Even dreams from my childhood remain remarkably vivid to this day. On several occasions I asked my mother if she remembered certain experiences and in her blank response realized they were from an astral plane, not of this world.

In recent years, while I still enjoy the thrill of imaginative dreaming, I also appreciate the practical side. Dreams are a powerful force in our lives and understanding what they are telling us can be quite transforming.

Unfortunately, there is no universal dream language. No pat textbook interpretation that makes the work easier. Driving a car may mean one thing to you and something completely different to me. All elements of the dream world are extremely personal.

Yet knowing that, I couldn’t help but pick up a book a while back at an estate sale titled “The Mystic Dream Book: 2500 Dreams Explained”. Mostly for the kitsch and because it had a cool cover. There is no author listed, but it was published by C. Junceau with a copyright of 1937.

Without getting into the sophomoric and somewhat frightening introduction, the dream explanations themselves are proof that this practice of fixed symbols is pretty darn bogus.

Here are a few excerpts taken exactly as printed:

Sleep – to dream you sleep is evil.
Fun – excessive merriment is a bad sign.
Grief – this indicates joy and merry times.
Gain – to dream you are making a big income is a bad sign, unless you appear to have scored by cheating.
Lice – to dream of lice and that you are killing a good number of them is a very good omen.
Mustard – danger from free speech.
Roast meat – affectionate greetings.
Rye – eating rye bread denotes popularity with the opposite sex.
Slaughter – you will attain a high position in the world.
Turnips – disappointment and vexation.

Reading back through that list, I’m not sure whether to laugh or scream. Hopefully there was a very small readership for this publication back in its day.

Just know that dreams provide a great service and you, oh wise one, are the master of that power.

If you have a question that needs answered, ask your dreams. If you’re looking for direction, work it out in your dreams. If you need to lighten up, have fun with your dreams. I swear…excessive merriment is not a bad sign.

Anthony Bourdain at bedtime is another matter.


Anonymous said...

I had to take some painkillers a few years back and the dreams they used to give me were amazing. I figure that might be the real reason people get hooked on those things! Vibrant, memorable, adventurous dreams. I never wanted to wake up!

I also love me some Anthony Bourdain. He's sort of like a big teenager in a fifty year old man's body. A big teenager who likes to eat unusual things and glower a lot.

SpookyRach said...

I'm a huge Bourdain fan, too. I probably wouldn't really enjoy hanging out with him all that much, but he's fun to watch. Reminds me a lot of Hugh Laurie in House.

I'm, well, appalled about the roast meat meaning. And the rye bread? However, I am always disappointed in turnips, so maybe that one makes sense.

I haven't remembered my dreams in a long time. In fact, I think I'm pretty much dreamless these days. Wonder what that means?

Pyzahn said...

Rach -- before you go to sleep, just set the intention that you want to remember your dreams. Then keep pen and paper next to the bed so you can make notes as soon as you wake up.

If there's something you want an answer to or help with, write it out on a slip of paper and put it in your pillow case. Think about it before drifting off.

Let me know what happens.

Blueberry said...

My husband can go right to sleep and somewhat control his dreams. It's easy for him and he thinks it's easy for everyone. I don't sleep well. I am jealous of people who can. My dreams are no fun either, but at least they don't usually have turnips in them. ;-)

Elizabeth said...

"Mustard - danger from free speech?" So in totalitarian regimes they dream of mustard?

"Rye - eating rye bread demotes[sic] popularity with the opposite sex." I think they must mean "wry," as in humor!

Slaughter does often lead to high position, but do people really dream about it?

And finally, Turnips. Yes, they are disappointing.

Bruce said...

I had this dream the other night that a man dressed as a policeman barged through our front door and yelled, I am chasing a burglar in your back yard...and promptly ran out the back door....then another policeman burst through the front door, and said the first policeman was an imposter, and that he was chasing him.......

...and that point, I woke up and thought to myself....what a weird frickin dream.....seriously.

we_be_toys said...

You're right - that was a seriously bogus book on dream interpretation! Of course, Freud isn't much better: he's always convinced everything has to do with either your mother or sex. Of course, dreaming of Anthony Bourdain is definitely about sex, so there you go!

Anonymous said...